The 4 Classes of Covid Vaccine Requirements Defined: Employment Mandates Vs. Vaccine Passports

It’s no secret, there has been no shortage of Covid vaccine requirements that have come in 2021.

And after trying to cover them all for almost a year now, we know all too well how confusing they can be!

So we did some research and found that there are two main categories of Covid vaccine requirements; vaccine passports and employment mandates.

Further, we found four classes of Covid vaccine requirements. 2 classes of vaccine passports and two classes of Covid related employment mandates.

And we will break down all four classes in this article and hopefully bring some simplicity into an otherwise complex year.

You can download our study here:

Defining the Four Classes of Covid Vaccine Requirements (Literature Review)

Or keep reading!

Here is a summary of what we found out about Covid vaccine passports and employment mandates.

The Goal of the Study

While reporting on Covid vaccine requirements. We found that there was a lack of language used to define the mandates and vaccine requirements that are being passed.

But if you are like most people. And you don’t have the time to read about every mandate being passed. It can get confusing quickly. Mainly because there is a lack of clarifying language.

The goal of our review was to find and define the types of Covid vaccine requirements (CVR’s) being passed. Both for law makers and the People they represent. In order to create more precise language and limit the spread of vaccine misinformation.

By classifying the different types of Covid vaccine requirements, we seek to clarify the language for the:

  • General public,
  • The businesses that are often responsible for enforcing CVRs,
  • And the lawmakers seeking to implement CVRs or bans against them.

Now, let’s break down the categories and classifications of Covid vaccine requirements we found without further ado.

Two Main Categories of Covid Vaccine Requirements

As stated earlier, there are two main categories of Covid Vaccine Requirements: Vaccine Passports and Employment Mandates.

Category 1: Vaccine Passports

Category 1: Vaccine Passports

Vaccine passports are CVR’s “that restrict travel and require proof of vaccination.”

They can limit travel in or out of public accommodations, private businesses, government buildings, or travel across state or country borders.

Vaccine passports are enforced through “..a document, digital record, or software application indicating that a person is immune to a disease, either through vaccination or infection and recoveryas defined by Montana’s House Bill 702, 2021.

Category 2: Employment Mandates

Category 2: Employment Mandates

Employment mandates are CVR’s that are a condition of employment. Simple enough right?

These mandates refer to executive orders such as President Biden’s Executive Order 14043. Which requires federal employees to be vaccinated as a term of employment. They can also be passed by states, cities and even companies like those by Amtrak and Delta.

Employment mandates issued by states, typically only apply to public employees. Where as those issued by cities often also impact the private sector.

4 Classes of Covid Vaccine Requirements Defined

4 Classes of Covid Vaccine Requirements Defined

As we looked at the two categories of CVR’s, we found that there were four distinct classes. These four classes arise from the distinction between CVR’s that affect public establishments and CVR’s that affect private establishments.

Class 1: Private Vaccine Passports

Class 1: Private Vaccine Passports

Private vaccine passports or Class 1 vaccine requirements include any law or policy which requires vaccine documentation to enter a privately owned business. For example, bars, restaurants, clubs, gas stations, doctors’ offices, private educational institutions, grocery stores, and/or other privately owned retail establishments that are public accommodations. 

Businesses typically draft Class 1 vaccine requirements. Such as some restaurants in North Carolina or municipalities such as:

Class 2: Public Vaccine Passports

Class 2: Public Vaccine Passports

Public vaccine passports or Class 2 vaccine requirements include any government policy that requires vaccine documentation to enter a publicly owned building or space. Currently, this is the rarest class of CVR.

The only government that has passed a Class 2 vaccine requirement is Los Angeles, which requires proof of vaccination to enter public buildings.

Class 3: Private Employment Mandates

Private employment mandates or Class 3 vaccine requirements are requirements that apply to employees in the private sector.

Class 3 vaccine requirements include any law or policy which requires a Covid vaccine as a term of employment at a private business. Whether the condition is from the company itself or by a government agency.

Examples of Class 3 Vaccine Requirements include:

Class 3 vaccine requirements are passed at nearly all levels, with business mandates as well as mandates at the state, and municipal levels.

Class 4: Public Employment Mandates

Public Employment Mandates or Class 4 vaccine requirements include any law or policy which requires a Covid vaccine as a term of employment in a publicly run owned establishment.

These requirements have been implemented at the federal level through President Biden’s Executive Order 14043 (2021). This is a C4 requirement that affects employment in the public sector by requiring that all federal employees be vaccinated or submit to testing. 

Other examples of Class 4 Vaccine Requirements include:

Class 4 mandates typically refer to workforce segments such as New York state’s mandate for healthcare workers or Hawai’i’s vaccine mandate for first responders.

However, municipalities like New York City and Gainesville, Florida have also mandated vaccines for all city employees.

How States Implement Covid Vaccine Requirement Bans and Limitations

How States Implement Covid Vaccine Requirement Bans and Limitations

Our research also looked at how states fought back against vaccine requirements. These bans and limitations on vaccine mandates further illustrate why this system of classification is crucial.

Arkansas Banned Vaccine Passports, Then Required Exemptions For Employee Mandates

Arkansas banned C2 vaccine Passports on April 29th, 2021, with the passing of An act to prohibit the Requirement of Vaccine Passports in Arkansas. This effectively banned Class 2 vaccine passports but did not stop private businesses from implementing vaccine passports.

Then on October 13th, Arkansas passed a bill that required employers to create a vaccine exemption policy for employees, making a process by which employees could opt-out of Class 3 and 4 employee mandate. Arkansas’s mandates employee exemption policy is less broad than similar requirements for employers in Texas and Florida. It still requires employees to submit to periodic testing if they choose to opt out.

Arkansas’ Strategy in 2021: Arkansas has banned C2 and C4 CVR’s, but has only required exemptions for C3 requirements. Further there is no regulation of C1 requirements in Arkansas.

Florida Banned Vaccine Passports, And Created Exemptions for Employees

Quickly following Arkansas’s lead, on May 3rd, 2021, Florida banned Class 1 and 2 vaccine passports with Senate Bill 2006 (2021). Still, it did not block Classes 3 or 4, which allowed vaccine mandates to be carried out on employees in both the public and private sectors.

Then on November 18th, 2021, Florida followed up with a requirement for private employers to allow employees to opt out of Class 3 employment mandate. While the law does not ban vaccine employment mandates.

It requires employers to let employees be exempt for religious or medical reasons. Or an agreement to be subject to periodic testing. Or an agreement to wear employer-supplied PPE. Further, that same act prohibits any public employer from having any Class 4 employment mandate.

Florida’s Strategy in 2021: Florida banned both C1 and C2 vaccine passports, as well as C4 employment mandates. And while it did not ban C3 CVR’s, it did create very broad exemptions.

Montana is the First and ONLY State to Ban All 4 Classes

In July of 2021, Montana was the first to ban outright ALL 4 classes of Covid vaccine requirements with House Bill 702: An Act Prohibiting Discrimination Based on a Person’s Vaccination Status or Possession of an Immunity Passport.

The bill which was signed into law made it illegal for:

“any person or government entity to refuse, withhold from, or deny to a person any local or state services, goods, facilities, advantages, privileges, licenses, educational opportunities, health care assess, or employment opportunities based on the person’s vaccination status or whether the person has an immunity passport.”

And with that, Montana was the first to ban any government law or company policy that required a vaccine passport. Or a vaccination as a term of employment. In both the public and the private sector.

Montana’s Strategy in 2021: Montana is the only state to have banned all 4 classes of CVR.

Texas, Like Florida Banned Vaccine Passports, And Created Exemptions for Employees

In a move similar to Florida’s approach, Texas banned vaccine passports, but with an executive order. Then eventually created broad exemptions for employees of employers that wanted a Covid-19 mandate.

On April 5th, 2021, Executive Order GA-35 banned Class 2 vaccine passports in the public sector if the vaccine was under “emergency use authorization.” The order also limited some private businesses from implementing Class 1 vaccine passports if the private business received public funding. Which left a large gap to allow private entities the implementation of Class 1 vaccine passports, and did nothing to stop Class 3 or 4 vaccine requirements.

Next, Texas Executive Order GA-38 was signed, which introduced “vaccine passport” to the language of the previous order.

After Pfizer’s vaccine was “fully approved” by the FDA, Executive Order GA-39 was signed and removed the caveat of only applying to vaccines passed under emergency use.

Then on October 11th, 2021, with Executive Order GA-40 Texas eventually created a broad exemption of the enforcement of all four types of Covid vaccine requirements. The order reads

“No entity in Texas can Compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or customer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscious…”

Similar to Florida’s approach to employee mandates, the order does not BAN all four classes of Covid vaccine requirements. But instead creates a broad exemption for anyone who objects for “any reason” of personal conscious. Including; religion, medical, or prior recovery from COVID-19.

Texas’ Strategy in 2021: Texas banned both C1 and C2 vaccine passports, as well as C4 employment mandates. And while it did not ban C3 CVR’s, it did create very broad exemptions. Unlike other states, Texas used the executive branch, rather than the legislative to achieve these ends.

Other States Limitations on Covid Vaccine Requirements

Several other states have passed limitations or bans on the various classes of covid vaccine requirements.

Alabama banned public vaccine passports with SB 267, Alaska also banned C2 vaccine passports through executive order. Other states to pass full or partial bans on covid vaccine requirements include Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming.

At the End of The Day: Vaccine Passports vs. Employment Mandates

In general, the distinctions between vaccine passports and employment mandates are self-evident. But due to the ‘novel’ approach to Covid, and with so much information to go through. This simple distinction has likely escaped the perception of many.

As a result, the general public may have less of an understanding of what a Covid vaccine requirement or the ban against them may mean. But by creating this simple model of classification and improving the language surrounding them can bring clarity to the situation.

Whether one is learning about a vaccine mandate or the restrictions against them!

By defining these four classes of Covid vaccine requirements. We hope to improve the awareness of what is being passed. And limit the misconceptions surrounding vaccine requirements, as well as the restrictions against them.